UPDATE: Scary moments Monday morning for 20 kids on a Hamilton County school bus. The group of students was about to be dropped off at school when they noticed their bus was on fire.

The bus is damaged and declared to be a total loss, but all students and driver escaped safely.

The bus, #33, was taking students to Soddy-Daisy Middle and High Schools, was about half-full of students when it caught fire near the intersection of Dayton Pike and Bean Street in Soddy-Daisy.

The driver of Hamilton County bus No. 33 had just finished picking up 20 kids when someone complained of a "funny smell." The smell was still moving when she looked out her mirror and noticed a big fire in the back engine compartment.


HCS Transportation Supervisor Ben Coulter said the local contract driver of about 18 months did everything by the book. According to the Hamilton County Schools Transportation Department's Policy Handbook, a driver is instructed to stop, evacuate and move all the kids 100 feet or more away from the bus and wait in the event of a fire.

"Ms. Smith handled the situation very well, evacuated the kids off the bus, brought them to a point about 100 yards or so in front of the bus and out of danger," Coulter said.

The first law enforcement officer to respond to the scene told Channel 3 that the driver helped every student evacuate through different exits of the bus, getting all students to safety.

Another bus picked up the kids up and took them to school. The 14 middle school students called their parents at school but everyone stayed at school. The remained 6 students on board the bus were high schoolers.


Hamilton County inspects school buses once a year. They checked Bus 33 in September and deemed it safe.

"It's very thorough and they will put out of service any bus that doesn't meet their standards," Coulter said.

The bus's owner told Channel 3 it's 11 years old with almost 90,000 miles.

Coulter said despite the fire, school buses are still the safest mode of transportation to and from school.

"In most cases, no one is ever hurt and most fires never get out of the engine compartment and you get a lot of warning signs before the fire gets big, it's not like an explosion," said Coulter.

The bus is a total loss. The cause of this fire in under investigation.


While that bus was parked and on fire in the right lane of Dayton Pike, a car rammed into the back of the bus. Police say a woman was taking her grandson to school when she swerved to miss the bus but still rear-ended the burning bus. The woman's car was almost totaled but police say she and her grandson were both okay.